Career Counseling

The Career Counseling Program

The Career Counseling specialization prepares graduates to work in high school and college career centers and advising offices. Some graduates use this training to establish private career counseling and consultation practices while others enter career development centers in private industry and public agencies. The specialization interfaces career counseling with interpersonal development and family dynamics. Career counseling encompasses the well-being of the whole individual and how work and career relate to family, fulfillment and lifestyle. Multicultural and social justice foundations are integrated throughout the program. In addition, issues such as worker dysfunction, workplace violence and sexual harassment are covered in the curriculum.

FAQs about Career Counseling and the SFSU program

What do Career Counselors do?

Here are some points from the National Career Development Association:

"Counselors often help to construct, clarify and realize a client’s career plan, dream or goals. Getting background information about a client’s career situation –– the whole picture, inclusive of lifestyle, leisure, family roles and influence, history, and a sense of the future – is an important function of career counselors." (Manzi, NCDA, 2003)

"Career counselors do a number of things to help people make important life transitions and related educational and career decisions. In general, an initial interview is required where a client’s situation is assessed and the appropriateness of the services is determined….The number of sessions may vary, and may include the assessment of a client’s work and educational history, formal and informal assessment of values, skills, aptitudes, interests, and personality factors and goal setting objectives. Clients may also use computer-assisted guidance systems... Some clients may seek help with a job search, including resumes, interviewing, follow-up and networking skills. Others may need labor market or occupational information, which are provided free by the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net, Occupational Outlook Handbook website and the Bureau of Labor Statistics" (NCDA, 2003)

What is the difference between Career Counseling and Coaching?

"There is substantial overlap between career coaching and career counseling…Both deal with career planning, implementation of career choice, career adjustment, and the interplay between personal and career issues. However, the two specialties also differ in some significant ways. First, career counselors are trained as professional counselors with a specialization in career interventions. There are nationally recognized bodies that accredit counselor training programs (e.g., Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs), national certificates or state licenses for counselors or counseling psychologists (e.g. National Board of Certified Counselors), and relevant professional codes of ethics … On the other hand, the field of career coaching is largely unregulated, with only a few coaching institutes that offer their own certificates and ethical codes…Second, although both" (Chung, 2003). For more information on this distinction, see "Career Coaching: Practice, Training, Professional, and Ethical Issues" by Y. Barry Chung and M. Coleman Allen Gfroerer in the Career Development Quarterly (Volume 52, 2003).



Prerequisites to the program include three foundation psychology courses: Developmental Psychology (at SFSU, PSY 431), Theories of Personality (at SFSU, PSY 451), and Psychopathology (at SFSU, PSY 452). These courses may be taken at any accredited junior college, college, or university. COUN 690, Field of Counseling, may be taken before or during the first semester in attendance. Please note that students whose only specialization is Rehabilitation Counseling do not need to take COUN 690.

Course  Title  Units
COUN 700 Theories of Counseling 3
COUN 702 Developmental Foundations for Counselors 3
COUN 703 Psychological Foundations for Counselors 3
COUN 705 Practicum and Internship 3
COUN 706 Counseling Process 3
COUN 715 Assessment in Counseling 3
COUN 735 CounselingPracticum and Fieldwork 2
COUN 736 Advanced Counseling Process 3
COUN 738 Alcohol and Substance Abuse 2
COUN 794 Seminar in Research 3
COUN 811 Group Counseling Process 3
COUN 833 Social and Cultural Foundations in Counseling 3
COUN 857 Law and Ethics in Counseling 3
COUN 858 Couples and Family Counseling 3
COUN 859 Counseling Aspects of Sexuality 2
COUN 890 Integratice Counseling 3
COUN 891 Case Studies and Internships 3
COUN 892 Internship 4
  Three Specialized Classes (see below) 9
  Minimum Total 60

Area of Professional Specialization - Career Counseling

Course Title Units
COUN 720 Career Counseling 3
COUN 721 Computer Applications in Counseling 3
COUN 727 Advanced Career Counseling 3


Career Counseling Specialization Faculty

Rebecca L. Toporek, Ph.D.

Rebecca Toporek is an Assistant Professor of Counseling at San Francisco State University, where she teaches and is the Coordinator of the Career Counseling Specialization. She has been a counselor since receiving her Master’s degree in Community Counseling from the University of Oregon in 1985, and then worked as a community college counselor in Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay area, and as a career counselor in a non profit organization. She later received her doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2001, and worked at the University of California, Berkeley, in Counseling and Psychological Services. In her writing and teaching, she focuses on social justice and multicultural competence for counseling in general, and college and career counseling more specifically. Rebecca Toporek has co-edited two books, the Handbook of Multicultural Competencies in Counseling and Psychology and the Handbook for Social Justice in Counseling Psychology. In addition, she has published over 35 articles and book chapters on career counseling, multicultural issues, and social justice advocacy. She is a founding member of Counselors for Social Justice and currently serves as co-editor for the Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology.

Norm Meshry, M.A.

Norm Meshriy is a Master Career Counselor. Norm made a major career change from a 24-year career in management of Information Technology. He established a private practice in 1993 with offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco. Norm is a consultant with an outplacement firm in San Francisco and a Distance Credentialed Counselor for a New York firm. He teaches masters-level classes at San Francisco State University and John F. Kennedy University. Norm is the author of the book Thinking Outside the Cubicle: How to Change the Job You Have Into the Job You Want.

Special Events Featuring Students and Faculty of the Career Counseling Program

Our faculty regularly present at regional, state and national conferences on career counseling. Look for us at the International Career Development Conference, California Counseling Association Conference, the National Career Development Association Convention, the American Counseling Association Convention, and the American Psychological Association Convention. Some examples of presentations by students and faculty include:

  • Not just for committed and underpaid humanitarians: Viable socially responsive career counseling presented at the International Career Development Conference of the California Career Development Association, Sacramento, CA (2007)
  • Laughing Matters: Counseling Through The Funny Bone presented at the International Career Development Conference of the California Career Development Association, Sacramento, CA (2007) Will Ugly Betty Ever Fit In? Career Counselors As Cultural Brokers presented at the International Career Development Conference of the California Career Development Association, Sacramento, CA (2007)
  • Narrative approaches in multicultural career counseling: Empowerment and engagement. Symposium presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA (2007)
  • The resume’s secret identity: A tool for narrative exploration in multicultural career counseling. California Counseling Association Conference, Burlingame, CA (2007)
  • Self-care and sustenance on the road to multicultural and advocacy counseling competency. California Counseling Association Conference, Burlingame, CA (2007)
  • Relationships in multicultural career counseling: Regardless of technology. Paper presented at the International Career Development Conference of the California Career Development Association, Santa Clara, CA (2006)
  • Ethical and practical social justice: Implementation of the Advocacy Competencies. Presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, New Orleans, LA (2006)
  • Making Competence Accessible: Web-based Technology in Multicultural and Advocacy Training. Presentation at the Annual Convention of the American Counseling Association, Montreal, Canada (2006)
  • What Does It Take To Be an Advocate? Career Counselors and the ACA Advocacy Competencies, Paper presented at the International Career Development Conference of the California Career Development Association,, Anaheim, CA (2005)
  • Practicing career counseling with a social justice perspective, Paper presented at the National Career Development Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA (2004)

Career Outlook

Career Counselors provide individual and group counseling as well as teach and design career exploration and employment programs for high schools, colleges, universities, private career counseling and consultation, private industry and public agencies. This specialization/emphasis blends expertise in career counseling with interpersonal development and family dynamics. Issues such as work and family balance, career and life goals, life transitions, workplace conflict, employment rights, healthy workplace, job search strategies, and the emotional aspects of career change are covered in the curriculum. Graduates who are interested in providing holistic career counseling and addressing the range of issues that affects clients’ lives and work may be interested in working toward eligibility for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 19% increase in employment of career counselors is expected by 2020.

Career Counseling Related Links and Resources